The Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide
Between the nearly one million residents and some six million yearly visitors, Oahu is by far the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands. And for visitors and locals alike, Oahu has long operated as a sort of inter-island hub -- since the days of King Kamehameha’s unification in 1810, to be exact.
So, as an intersection of many different travel routes, peoples, industries, foods, and histories, Oahu is uniquely positioned as a perfect jumping off point or starter island for your Hawaiian adventures.
Whether you are just starting to explore your first island or stopping by on your way deeper into the jungle, there’s plenty of adventure to discover on Oahu.
Want even more help planning your trip to Oahu? Check out this episode of Hawaii's Best Podcast featuring Shaka Guide's Co-Founder, Andrew Fowers!
Oahu has five distinct regions:
- Honolulu, the island’s southern shore
- Windward Side, the east coast
- North Shore
- Leeward Side, the west coast which includes the resort area of Ko Olina
- Central Oahu
In this guide, we’re going to focus on the first four regions and for each we’ve included information on where to stay, beaches and hikes.
This guide also has:
WHERE TO STAY
Resorts and Hotels in Honolulu
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)
Honolulu is by far the most popular area to stay on Oahu. You’ll find comparably affordable prices to other areas and also be right at the center of an awesome city with all the food and culture that comes with that.
If you’re looking to shop in the sun, you won’t find many places in the world better than Waikiki. There are boutiques and department stores of all varieties in this bustling neighborhood. Not only that, this is also one of the best areas to stay if you want to learn to surf. The waves on Waikiki are perfect for beginners!
Vacation Rentals Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu
Waikiki and Honolulu have some jaw-dropping rooms and apartments for as little as $30 a night (not including any sneaky fees).
These accommodations are great if you are relying on Oahu’s bus systems, as well, since there are plenty of stops throughout Honolulu that can connect you to the whole island.
Of course, not all Airbnbs are budget options in Hawaii’s biggest city. You can find hosts at any level of luxury if you happen to be looking for something a little bit... fancier.
Airbnb Diamond Head Beach Area
If you’re looking to get out of the city but stay close, Diamond Head is an awesome beachy suburb of Honolulu that has a lot to offer in terms of accessibility and comfort.
With Cromwell's and Diamond Head Beach Park so close you’ll never be more than a short walk from a beautiful beach. Additionally, Diamond Head's hike is a great place to start if you are ready to jump into adventuring or see the world-renowned Waikiki sunset from a little higher up.
Diamond Head is one of the more expensive areas to stay with accommodations running from a couple-hundred dollars to several thousand.
This iconic beach stretches two-miles along Oahu’s southern shore. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and even learning to surf! We recommend ending your day with a Waikiki sunset -- they’re some of the best you’ll see!
RELATED: What to do in Waikiki Beach
Halona Beach Cove
Also known as Eternity Beach or Cockroach Cove, you may recognize this spot from the many movies it’s been in. Most famously, the 1953 film, “From Here to Eternity.” There’s a short, rocky climb to get to this beach, but once you’re there relax in the sand, look for sea turtles, or go for a swim. Just be careful, the water is rough and there are no lifeguards on duty. Use your best judgement and swim at your own risk if you dive in.
Known for its intense shorebreak, Sandy’s is a popular spot for bodyboarders. We don’t recommend you swim though -- it’s also known as “break-neck beach.” Can you guess why? Just sit back and watch the bodyboarders in action!
Diamond Head is one of Oahu’s most popular sites — in fact, about 3,000 people hike this dormant volcano daily. It’s a family-friendly hike that takes about 2 hours to complete. It has some spots with narrow pathways and steep elevation, but for the most part, it’s accessible. At the summit you’ll get aerial views of Honolulu.
RELATED: Diamond Head Travel Guide
This Honolulu hike is revered for its steep elevation. It’s rated hard and not for beginner hikers. You’ll trek up former railway tracks to the summit where you’ll get views of south-eastern Honolulu.
Manoa Falls Trail; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Blake Bronstad
This family-friendly waterfall hike takes you through a jungle forest to a 150-foot waterfall. This hike is just under two miles and takes about 2 hours to complete. Although this hike is considered easy to moderate, it can get slippery! Be sure to wear proper hiking shoes.
RELATED: Seven Oahu Waterfall Hikes
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Daeja Faris
WHERE TO STAY
Resorts and Hotels on the North Shore
If you’re looking to escape the city life, the North Shore is perfect. This is a well-known surfer zone, but all the spots on the North Shore are pretty advanced, so consider yourself warned.
Also, be warned that North Shore locations fill up fast during the months of December when some of the world's most famous surf competitions happen there annually. So book well in advance if you’re certain this is where you want to stay.
Turtle Bay is an extremely popular resort that has several different styles of accommodations, whether you’re looking to rent a condominium on the golf course or a resort room near Turtle Bay’s shops and activities.
Vacation Rentals on the North Shore
If you are looking for a real vacation from the city Haleiwa is probably one of the most relaxing towns on the planet. There are dozens of boutique shops and amazing options for dining in this dreamy surf town.
And staying on the North Shore means you’ll have plenty to explore and discover, too, whether you’re looking for a beach-and-surf-day or a hiking adventure. If you’re staying in Haleiwa, get ready for what we can only assume is some much-needed sun and rest.
Most Airbnb hosts in this area run from about $50-200 a night, which is a real bargain for such a beautiful town right on the North Shore.
Camping on the North Shore
There are loads of amazing spots to camp on the North Shore. These grounds are extremely popular, however, so reserve your site early if you have your heart set on somewhere specific.
Let’s get started!
Malaekahana Beach campground is probably the most popular camping destination on Oahu. Despite its popularity, you can usually find a spot if you’re flexible since there are 74 tent sites at Malaekahana. If you have any specific needs, book early.
Malaekahana also has options like plantation hale cabins and plantation suites, if you are looking for something other than traditional tent camping.
A little further south, Kokololio Beach Park is another beautiful place to camp on the North Shore. However, this ground only has five sites which are rarely available. If you are lucky enough to snag a permit for one, you’ll enjoy quiet beachfront camping with plenty of shade.
RELATED: Oahu Camping Guide
Pupukea & Sunset Beach Parks; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Looking to see some world-class surfers in action? Head to Banzai Pipeline, officially named Ehukai Beach. “Pipeline”, as surfers call it, is known for its quintessential barreling waves. During the winter, surfers flock to "Pipe" to test their might against the waves. This beach is for experienced surfers only!
RELATED: Winter on Oahu’s North Shore
This moon-shaped beach features soft, white sand, crystal-clear blue waters and even a cliff jump! Depending on the season the waves at Waimea Bay can get massive. In fact, this beach is the spot for “The Eddie” competition, which only runs when the waves are big enough!
Another famous surf spot, this beach is also great for something else -- you guessed it, watching the sunset. Sit back and relax as you watch the sun fall into the ocean over the horizon at this expansive beach.
Waimea Valley; Roxanne Ready / Flickr; CC-BY-SA-2.0
Want to swim beneath a waterfall? Here’s your chance! Waimea Valley features a botanical garden and a one-and-a-half-mile hike to a 45-foot waterfall. Once you reach the falls, you’ll have the option to swim in the pool below. There is an entrance fee to visit, including to do the hike.
RELATED: Waimea Valley Travel Guide
North Shore Pillbox
Also known as the Ehukai Pillbox Hike, this trail is located across the street from Banzai Pipeline. Although this trail tends to be muddy (especially if it’s been raining), it’s worth it when you reach the top and take in views of Oahu’s epic North Shore beaches below.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels and Resorts on the Leeward Side
Kapolei is on the southern portion of Oahu’s Leeward (western) shore. If you are looking to stay out of the rain and find some off-the-beaten-path adventures, this is a great place to stay.
There are several accommodations on the Leeward side in the popular resort area of Ko Olina. Here you’ll find a Marriott, the Four Seasons, and Disney’s Aulani resort.
RELATED: Ko Olina Travel Guide
One of several lagoons at Ko Olina; Kate Webster / Flickr; CC-BY-ND-2.0
Ko Olina Lagoons
These lagoons are perfect for a family beach day with your keiki (or children). Rocks protect the lagoons from big waves making them a great spot to swim.
Pink Pillbox Hike
This 1.6-mile trail is considered moderate, but has a relatively steep elevation gain. Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Oahu’s western shoreline.
Kaʻena Point Trail
Ka’ena Point State Park; brookpeterson / Flickr; CC-BY-ND-2.0
Located in Kaʻena Point State Park, this 3.5 mile trail will feel like a nature walk as you look for birds and marine life along the shore!
Staying on Oahu's Leeward Side? Start our Grand Circle Island Tour in Ko Olina!
View of Lanikai in Kailua; Hamza ERBAY / Unsplash
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels and Resorts Windward Side
Paradise Bay is a great resort on Kaneohe Bay with amenities like water-side rooms and yoga.
The bay also has some of the best kayaking on the island, so if you are looking to stay somewhere that you can put-in right outside your door, this is the spot for you.
Vacation Rentals Windward Side
Kailua is a lovely town with enough boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores to keep you going all day. Nearby, Lanikai Beach is one of the most stunning locations on all of Oahu. Both destinations have a ton of great vacation rental options at a wide range of prices for you to choose from.
If you have your heart set on the Windward side, another spot to consider is Kaneohe Bay. It's home to some great vacation rental locations for reasonable prices. The hiking on this part of the island is magnificent, so make sure to check out some of our other posts if you’re looking for an adventure.
Camping Windward Side
Oahu’s Windward Side also has some amazing places to camp that are a bit less competitive to book compared to other parts of the island. You can also find some of the few inland campgrounds on the Windward Side, so if you don’t want to wake up near the ocean for some reason, Windward Side is going to be your best bet.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens is one such inland camping destination that will take your breath away. You’ll want to book a couple of weeks in advance to make sure you can get a site since there are only eight, but there are usually availabilities.
If you chose to camp here, you’ll be right in the middle of a 400-acre botanical garden. The garden is known for its large groupings of different tropical plants by geographic locations like the Philippines, Africa, Malaysia, tropical America, India, Melanesia, and more. Not open weekdays.
Bellows Field Beach Park is another great Windward Side camping destination. However, although the park has 50 spots, it can still be extremely difficult to find an open site. If you can manage to get a spot, you’ll be right on the beach with a view of the mountainous coast.
Bellows Field Beach Park is also closed weekdays.
Voted the Best Beach in America in 2019, this beach has something from everyone. With miles of soft white sand, pristine water, and gentle waves, it’s great for swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and even windsurfing!
RELATED: Kailua Travel Guide
Lanikai Beach at Dawn; Jan Arendtsz / Flickr; CC-BY-ND-2.0
Just down the road from Kailua is Lanikai Beach. The waves are even more serene and you’ll get an awesome view of two islands off the coast. Known as the “mokes” these provide a picture-perfect backdrop.
RELATED: Lanikai Travel Guide
Stroll along three miles of white sand with turquoise water and ironwood trees by your side at Waimanalo Beach.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Lanikai Pillbox Hike, Kailua; Cosmin Serban / Unsplash Pillbox
Also known as Kaiwa Ridge Trail, this hike has steep and rocky inclines, narrow walkways, and ropes to help guide you, but when you reach the top you’ll have unobstructed views of Kailua and Lanikai.
This short trail takes you to a multi-tier through lush jungle. Once you reach the top, stop for some photos in front of the falls! Be mindful though, this trail gets slippery when it’s been raining.
Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail
This family-friendly hike is just under two miles and takes about two hours to complete. It’s completely paved and offers views of some seriously blue water. In the winter months, look out to the ocean below and you might see some humpback whales! Once you reach the top, you’ll see Oahu’s eastern shoreline and Makapu’u Lighthouse which was used to guide ships along the island’s turbulent coast.
Visit Oahu's Windward Coast on Shaka Guide's East Oahu Shoreline Drive!
Scenic View from atop Diamond Head; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
If you’re a hiker you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied no matter where you choose to stay your time on Oahu. Each part of the island has something unique to offer, so this is a great activity for which to tour the island, as well. Check out some of our favorites below!
2. Botanical Gardens
Lush scenery at Ho’omaluhia; Darren Lawrence / Unsplash
Speaking of botanical gardens, there are several spread across most parts of Oahu. Some of them have species you can’t find anywhere else on earth, so they are definitely something to check out if botany interests you!
In addition to the Waimea Valley and Ho’omaluhia botanical gardens, which we mentioned in the camping section, you might also consider heading to Fosters, Lili’uokalani, Koko Crater or Wahiawa botanical gardens.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa campus is also basically one big botanical garden. The Japanese Garden off of East-West Street is particularly impressive.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono
Unless you’ve somehow avoided all Hawaii-related popular culture, you probably already know that Hawaii is hugely important to the world of surfing. You can find some of the world’s most famous breaks on Oahu, and if you’re here at the right time, you might even be able to watch a competition on the North Shore!
There’s loads of places to rent boards from if you’re looking to surf. If you’re in Honolulu you can rent from Hawaii Surfboard Rentals LLC, Moku Hawaii or Quality Surfboards Hawaii. On the North Shore, Tropical Rush Surf Co is a great option.
Waikiki has some of the best surfing in the world for beginners. Many renowned surfers first learned on its gentle waves.
Pipe, Sunset and Waimea are some of the most famous surf breaks in the world, however these spots are for experts only.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
If you’re a shopper, you’ve come to the right island. Waikiki will have just about any business you might want to patronize from designer storefronts and boutiques to surf and comic book shops.
The North Shore also has some great places to shop if you are looking for a surfboard or some one-of-a-kind souveniers.
If you’re visiting Lanikai Beach or the pillbox hikes. Kailua has some cute shops, as well. Bookends is an awesome bookstore, and Morning Brew coffee shop next door is a great place to grab a pastry and read!
Kailua Farmers market also happens Thursdays at 5:00 PM. For boutiques, check out Olive Boutique or Global village.
RELATED: Best Farmers Markets in Oahu
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
There are hundreds of different tours to take on Oahu, so you should be able to find something that interests you. Boat tours and helicopter tours are common.
There are also loads of backpacking and hiking guides that can take you into the more remote areas of the island. During the season, whale watching tours are available from land and sea.
And, don't forget about Shaka Guide's self-guided tours, we have six on Oahu.
6. Zoo & Aquarium
Waikiki Aquarium; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
You can make a full day out of seeing the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, which are conveniently located across the street from each other.
The zoo is $19 or $8 for residents. You’ll find many different animals from all over the world as well as an endemic and indigindous animals exhibit, which includes species like the Hawaiian Hawk and Manu-o-ku. Checkout the zoo’s sloth and penguin live streams here! It’s not huge, but it does have some fun exhibits like the Hawiian Monk Seal habitat. Please note, there's an entrance fee to visit.
RELATED: 10 Things to Do on Oahu With Kids
7. Driving Tours
At this point, you might be feeling some anxiety about squeezing in all the different things to do on Oahu.
Shaka Guide can help you plan your days efficiently and make sure you hit plenty of attractions.
Johnny Silvercloud / Wikimedia Commons; CC-BY-SA-2.0
The first lu’au as we think of them today happened in 1819 when King Kamehameha II and Queen Ka'ahumanu ended centuries of social injustice that had long been written into ancient Hawaiian customs. So, luaus have always held an important piece of Hawaiian culture and history.
And, as you’ve probably heard, they’re also a really great time. The luaus on Oahu vary in how much they adhere to Hawaiian culture, but there are several that do an awesome job of keeping things as traditional as possible.
In Hawaiian, luau means feast, so when we talk about traditional luaus we’re looking for culturally accurate Hawaiian foods such as poi and kalua pork.
For a great luau, you’ll also hope for culturally accurate entertainment. Traditional hula is many times more fascinating than the more common westernized spin, for instance. And hearing tales from Hawaiian religion is quiet and experience!
A bunch of Waikiki hotels offer luaus -- check out their websites to learn more. You can also look on groupon to try to save. Two of our favorite luaus on the island are in Ko Olina on the west side. These are Paradise Cove and Germaine’s. The Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore also has a popular luau.
RELATED: Oahu Luau Guide
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Snorkeling on Oahu isn’t quite as surreal as some of the other Hawaiian Islands but there are still some pretty dreamy destinations if you know where to look. Sharks Cove on the North Shore has sea turtles and tropical fish including the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the state fish of Hawaii.
Hanauma Bay, located in Honolulu also has dense schools of tropical fish and is the most popular snorkel spot on the island. On the Leeward Coast, Electric Beach has a reef with sea turtles, as well.
10. Island Hopping
If you’re looking to see a few different Islands, Oahu is definitely the best one to call home-base. If you are flexible, there are often awesome deals on inter-island flights out of Honolulu, so don’t be afraid to throw an overnight minivacation in with your vacation to Oahu.
11. Beach Hopping
We've mentioned some pretty epic beaches in the guide and we think you'll find that whether you're looking to watch surfers catch big waves, swim with your family, or snorkel in Oahu's clear waters, there's a beach for everyone! Check out some of our favorites below!
12. Adventures Abound
Derek Owens / Unsplash
There are tons of other adventures you can find on the island. Ziplining and skydiving are both popular. Shark Cage diving gives quite the rush, as well, and you don’t need any special training like you do with traditional scuba diving, of which there is also plenty of.
13. Visit World-Class Attractions
Oahu is also home to a host of famous attractions. Spend your day at the Dole Plantation, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley or the Polynesian Cultural Center!
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)
Best Places to Eat Waikiki
Shopping and sun-soaking are hungry work, so you’re probably going to need to stop for food at some point while you’re in Waikiki. Cheeseburger Waikiki is a relaxed environment that’s great for the whole family with comfort food.
Still not relaxed enough?
You can unleash your inner beach bum and feel the sand between your toes at Steak Shack or Duke’s Beach Restaurant, both of which are right on Waikiki beach. In fact, we walk right by Duke’s on our Heart of Waikiki Beach Walking tour.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks, Marukame Udon has some of the best food on the island for very cheap -- get ready to wait though, as the line is always out-the-door. For other tasty food on a budget, you might have better luck getting a bowl of poke at Ono Seafood or heading over to Mami’s Empanadas, but they will probably have waits as well.
Best Places to Eat in Honolulu
Hank’s Haute Dogs; Arnold Gatilao / Flickr; CC-BY-2.0
Honolulu is a cultural center of the Pacific, so you’ll have no shortage of phenomenal food options no matter what you are looking for. Chinatown is packed full of wonderful restaurants like Lucky Belly and The Pig and the Lady.
There are also tons of great places to eat for cheap in Honolulu. I don’t want to be dramatic, but Hank’s Haute Dogs will elevate you to a new plane of existence, if only briefly. And kids always love a hot dog so it’s budget transcendence for-the-whole-family.
But since Hank’s can be a bit out of the way, you might also try Ali’i Coffee, Thyda’s Tacos (truck), Musubi Cafe, Hawaii Sushi, or Pai’s Deli for tasty, inexpensive options.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Aria Studios
And Oahu and Honolulu are the center point of it all.
So it’s no wonder that Honolulu has become such an amazing food city. There are local favorites that you can’t find better-made anywhere in the world as well as phenomenal takes on dishes you know and love.
RELATED: Honolulu Travel Guide
Best Places to Eat on North Shore
There are lots of great places to eat on the North Shore if you know where to look. This entire area is pretty relaxed, to put it lightly. You shouldn't have a problem finding something inexpensive or family friendly.
North Shore Tacos is a legendary food stand, and Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken stand has some of the best food on the island, as well. Surf N Salsa and Delice Crepes Haleiwa are delicious food trucks.
Roy’s Beach house (Temporarily closed due to COVID-19) in Turtle Bay is great if you are looking for something more upscale.
The Kahuku shrimp trucks are another popular choice. If you’re on the Shaka Guide Grand Circle Island or Legendary North Shore Loop tours, we point out several popular shrimp truck options along the tour route. Two of our favorites include Giovanni’s and Romi’s.
It’s always a great time to visit Oahu. But everyone is looking to get something a little different from their time here. To this end, it’s good to know what the island is like at different parts of the year.
Oahu gets the most tourists during the months of June, July, August, and December. The slowest months are January, February, April, September, October, and November. Peaks and lulls both have their advantages.
If you’re looking to miss the crowds, October, November, April and the beginning of May are great months to visit as you’ll be missing the peak travel times and the rain.
Sung Shin / Unsplash
June, July, and August are the most heavy traffic months but have their advantages, as well. The temperature will get you a nice tan without overheating and the skies are generally clear.
Oahu really only has two seasons, a dry summer from April to September and wet winter from October to March.
February and March are the best months for whale watching. December to April is the surfing season, although you can catch a wave year round.
Thomas Ashlock / Unsplash
You’ve got several options for getting around Oahu. You’ll have a surprising number of choices in Honolulu, some of which you might not be used to.
You’ve probably used classics like rental cars, ride shares (Uber and Lyft) and the local bus system. But you might not be used to Turo, Hui, bike shares and trolleys, so get ready to learn!
You’re best bet if you are looking to rent a car at the airport is going to be Hertz. But if you can last until you make it deeper into Honolulu you’ll have more options like Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental.
Uber and Lyft work well in the city and most populated areas. During peak hours you might have to pay a pretty penny, though.
Oahu’s public bus system can get you all over the island. You can even get to most hikes on the island using the bus system if you are willing to walk a little after you get off. Adults are charged $2.75 per ride with two transfers or $70 for a monthly pass.
Turo is a great option if you are looking to save money on car rental. Turo allows you to rent cars from other private owners who set their own price.
Drive Hui lets you book cars by the hour or day right from your smartphone! This is a great option for people who don’t need a car for a full day. Added bonus: when you choose Hui you’ll get a FREE Shaka Guide driving tour.
Honolulu and Waikiki also have several Biki Bike share stations. In addition, if you’re interested in seeing things a bit more slowly, you can also hop on a trolley for a scenic trip around the city.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi
No one likes spending more money than they have to, so Shaka Guide is here with all the best ways to save on your Oahu vacation. We’ll also give you an idea of how much you should be spending daily on food and lodging, among other things, so you’ll have a price point to compare to.
Food is extremely expensive on the Hawaiian Islands. And while you won’t see prices quite as high as you might on Molokai or Kauai, food costs on Oahu can still seem steep if you’re used to the mainland United States.
Because they are.
For instance, you’ll be paying somewhere between $5-$8 dollars for milk and about $4 for a dozen large eggs.
Don’t expect to find much relief at fast food joints, either, since franchises often cost more than some eateries you can find around Honolulu such as the aforementioned house of spiritual fulfilment known as Hank’s Haute Dogs.
If you are planning on eating out for a particular meal, you’ll want to budget about $15-20 per person for breakfast and lunch and closer to $25-30 for dinner.
Lodging costs will mostly depend on what type of accommodation you choose, but what time of year you come to Oahu will also have a big impact.
For a beach front hotel in Honolulu, you’ll be looking at about $250+ a night. However, you can also find hotels a little further inland for around $150 a night. During peak travel times you’ll pay $50-150 more depending on your initial price point.
Airbnbs will be a similar situation, with most hosts running anywhere from $50 to $300 a night, plus added fees.
Ticketing and Airfare
Taiki Ishikawa / Unsplash
As with any destination, you’re ticket price is going to depend a lot on where you’re traveling from, when you’re going, and how early you get your ticket.
A trip from Seattle might cost anywhere between $350 to $750 for an economy seat, for instance. From Chicago, you can expect to spend $550 to $900 for a similar seat. From New York and Boston, prices run from about $600 to $1,500.
Other Transportation Costs
Transportation costs will also depend mostly on how you choose to get around. If you take the bus you can get to and from each adventure for about $5 per person or spend $70 per person for a month long pass.
If you’d prefer to have your own transportation always available, you can rent a standard vehicle for about $60 to $70 a day. However, if you’re staying at a major hotel, it’s important to note that you will most likely have to pay for parking.
Island hopping from Oahu can be surprisingly affordable (depending on the season), as well, if you’re looking to break up your vacation. If you’re flexible, you can get from island to island for around $60 per ticket.
=Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds
The great thing about Hawaii is that much of your entertainment expense comes from getting to the island. Once you’re there, you’re free to hit as many beaches and hikes as you can fit into your stay.
Of course, there are always extras you might want to experience, as well. The best way to nail down an entertainment budget is to make a list of must-dos, hunt down prices on each item, and then prioritize.
Let us help get you started with some approximate prices.
Money Saving Tips
If you are looking to save everywhere you can, we’ve got a few more tips you might consider. These are great, but you might not be able to make them all work for your situation. Mix and match as you see fit!
Stay in a Hostel
If you’re interested alternate lodging styles, hostels are a great way to save money and experience something new. For as little as $30 a night you can stay in a Waikiki Boutique Hostel.
Plan with a Friend or Group
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono
There are a ton of great ways to save if you’re able to plan with others. Sharing a hotel or Airbnb can split your lodging expenses in half. The same goes for certain transportation like car rentals and rideshares.
There are also usually great deals on adventures and activities for groups. If you’re traveling with a few friends, definitely check Groupon before you start booking experiences.
Alternatively, Travel Alone
Traveling by yourself can save money, as well, depending on what type of person you are and what activities you prefer. Flexibility will go a long way toward saving money, and the lighter you travel the more flexible you’ll be. Standby and waiting lists are much easier to navigate alone, for instance.
If you know of several things you want to do, you can often find package deals online or at a local travel agency. You might be able to save big by booking several or all of your adventures through a single company.
Military, Senior, Resident, Children Discounts
There are several different types of discounts you might be eligible to receive depending on your situation. Almost every activity will have military, senior, and children discounts.
If you happen to be traveling from another island, there’s also the Kamaaina discount for residents of Hawaii.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono
Planning a trip to Hawaii is going to take some time, but hopefully this guide will help make things easier. Keep in mind that although it is great to have a plan, plans don’t always pan out.
If you wake up to rain or bad conditions one day, don’t sweat the plan -- there’s tons of other great activities and adventures to find. Some of your best days on Oahu might be the days that your plans fell apart and you went where the island took you.